The current global pandemic and the rise in staff working remotely has brought existing business working models into sharp focus. Working from home had already become more common, with the number of people who work from home having increased by 140% since 2005.
It is extremely advantageous for many, especially parents and those with families, and even after the current pandemic is resolved, our style of working is likely to undergo a permanent shift.
Remote working allows for a flexibility that is attractive to many – 40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
Companies could go a step further, though, by allowing staff to not only work from home but to work to flexible, self-managed hours and tasks. Such an approach is almost unprecedented, and some may wonder if devolving control to employees in this way would make a company less productive.
The opposite is true. Without the pressure of fixed hours and centrally-imposed deadlines, employees can be more motivated by their work and are in fact more willing to give more of their time to their jobs. Indeed, research has shown that flexible workers are more productive, and often put in longer hours than those with set working times.
More importantly, this flexible approach provides a highly family-friendly environment. New research has shown that a fifth of women face barriers to securing jobs, simply because they were unable to work the required hours.
This is more than double the amount of men who have experienced the same issue. For women with young children, for instance, childcare becomes more manageable when you can dictate your own hours.
Women are much more likely to work part-time than men, but by offering flexible hours, companies are able to provide an alternative option.
This approach helps to increase the proportion of women with families within the workforce, allowing for a more inclusive and diverse working environment.
At IOHK, we develop blockchain solutions – software which operates simultaneously on thousands, or tens of thousands of computers globally, rather than on a single, centralized server. It is decentralized, allowing for great security. Obviously, we are firm believers in the huge potential of decentralization.
This is not just the case with our products, though, but extends to the way we organize the company. IOHK employs almost 250 people. Based in over 20 countries globally, having a central office could potentially isolate some workers. Instead, we have no central company offices; our employees work from home wherever they are based, to their own schedules with no set hours.
It is likely that the decentralized working model will become increasingly common.
However, it should extend beyond where and when staff members work. Employers could also allow remote divisions or departments to decide their own business strategies independently, with reduced central edicts.
Pay and promotions decisions could be made more decentralized and transparent, based on clear, consensus-based criteria such as cost of living in each location and the experience, performance and market value of the employee.
The blockchain industry inherently attracts people who are passionate about cutting-edge technologies, who can see things from an evolving perspective. It’s important to us to be able to attract as many of these talented workers as possible, no matter where they may be based.
By creating a culture of flexibility within their workforce, companies like ours are able to increase the number of people who want to work in blockchain but have particular time constraints. Remote meetings and training support that approach, and allow our employees to stay up-to-date from anywhere in the world.
More and more workplaces are evolving from pyramids to holacratic structures. Adopting a decentralized workplace culture will enable parents to create a work schedule that works for them, attracting more parents to that employer.
Working from home in the coming months is going to be essential to relieve the stress of the global pandemic.
The idea of a decentralized workforce may be daunting to companies initially, but there are many benefits.
Given the sheer scale of remote working that is occurring now, it is likely that we will see a wider and more permanent shift in working models, from centralized, hierarchical organizations with fixed offices and hours to more open to flexible, flatter workplace structures.